The president began by announcing that his head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Joshua DuBois, will be leaving his post on Friday. DuBois has been working with the president since his days in the Senate and has reached out to religious leaders across the spectrum on a range of issues. He has also been a key player in Obama's personal faith life.
"Joshua has been at my side at work and in prayer for years now," the president said.
"Every morning he sends me in an e-mail a daily meditation. A snippet of Scripture for me to reflect on, and it has meant the world to me. And despite my pleas, tomorrow will be his last day at the White House." The president thanked DuBois, who was standing off stage to his right, and wished him well.
The president used his speech, as he has in years past, to illuminate pieces of his own Christian faith and a faith in God and country.
"We come together as a people of faith. We know faith is something that must be cultivated. Faith is not a possession. Faith is a process," he said speaking from notes and without a teleprompter.
"As Christians we place our faith in the nail-scarred hands of Jesus Christ," the president said, emphasizing his personal belief as a Christian before turning toward an interfaith tone: "So many other Americans know the embrace of faith Muslims and Jews, Hindus and Sihks, and all Americans, whether religious or secular, have a deep abiding faith in this nation."
The president spoke of the two men whose Bibles he used during his recent presidential inauguration ceremonies, President Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.
He spoke of the trials they each faced and compared them, in part, to the current struggles facing the United States - the deficit, taxes and education - picking up on the major themes from Carson's keynote.
"In the midst of all these debates, we must keep that same humility that Dr. King and Lincoln and Washington and all our great leaders understood is at the core of true leadership," the president said.
"I do worry sometimes that as soon as we leave the prayer breakfast, everything we've been talking about the whole time at the prayer breakfast seems to be forgotten - on the same day of the prayer breakfast," he said, drawing a laugh from the crowd as he turned toward Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, a loud critic of the president's policies who was seated at the head table.